The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

The Adventure of the Cardboard BoxThe Adventure of the Cardboard Box

Sadly, this story is not about the episode of Spongebob Squarepants where Spongebob and Patrick have tremendous loads of fun with nothing but a cardboard box and Squidward gets extremely jealous and inquisitive. That was classic.

No, this story is about something much more sinister. When you get a package in the mail, you generally know that it’s something you’ve ordered off of Amazon, but that wasn’t the case with one little old lady named Susan Cushing. Susan got a package one day and it happened to hold quite the terrible contents. Inside the box were two human ears. Susan doesn’t have many friends, she is not married, and generally people like her. Why on Earth would somebody send her two ears?

Lestrade supposes that perhaps they were a prank played by some medical students whom Susan used to rent to. Upon examining the ears, Sherlock comes to the conclusion that they’re not from a preserved body as such would be used during dissection; they’re from recently deceased people, two people in fact. One ear belongs to a man, a sailor, and another ear belongs to a woman. Since no one has reported having their ears cut off, it’s assumed these two people are dead.

Sherlock asks Susan all kinds of questions about her family. She has three sisters. One is married, the other is not. The married one has an alcoholic husband. The unmarried one used to live with Susan, but they couldn’t get along so she moved out. The two sisters are named Sarah and Mary. Susan has not heard from her sisters in some time.

Sarah doesn’t live very far away and Sherlock and John decide to pay her a visit. When they reach the house they are told that she cannot see them because she has brain fever(basically she’s had a mental breakdown).

Sherlock and John go out to dinner with Lestrade, where Sherlock talks about violins incessantly and receives a telegram. He tells Lestrade he has solved it. He says the crime is shocking. He gives a name to Lestrade and tells him to arrest the man.

The name happens to be the name of Mary’s husband. Apparently, Sarah wanted Mary’s husband and flirted with him all the time. She lived at their house and it was a difficult situation. The man, Browner, had taken up drinking again after swearing it off. Apparently, Sarah got Mary to talking to another sailor. She created suspicion in Mary’s mind about her husband. She was finally told that she had to leave the house. Mary wasn’t very happy. He told Sarah that if he ever caught his wife with the sailor again, he would send Mary’s ear to her.

Mary did not heed her husband’s warning. She went out with the sailor for a nice day. Browner followed them and killed them in a boat. He cut off an ear from each and mailed them to Sarah, at Susan’s house, where she had previously resided, but he did not know that she wasn’t there. Sarah was so distraught about the whole thing that she came down with brain fever.

Browner is arrested. Sherlock deduced from the rocky family relations and the string used to tie the package that a man of the sea with violent passions was somehow involved.

The Adventure of the Cardboard BoxObservations

Gosh, this is awful. One of the sisters got her ear cut off. Granted she shouldn’t have been cheating on her husband, or whatever it was, she shouldn’t have had her ear cut off. As described the murders sound exactly like the “crime of passion” thing we were talking about in another post on Sherlock. I looked into crimes of passion a bit more. They still carry a sentence, but it can be a reduced sentence. You still have to have a pretty good lawyer though. I doubt that Browner would have been granted a crime of passion sentence, because I don’t think the legal term existed then. I actually don’t know if the legal term exists in England at all.

It may be that Browner gets a full sentence, but it may also be that the court has a little compassion on him because he wife was cheating on him, but then you throw in the alcoholic equation and he’s probably not getting off of anything. Even back in the day when people drank up storms, there were people who didn’t like it. There would have been people who frowned upon Browner drinking so much.

This story contains a token of murder. We’ve seen the plot device used on many occasions. So-and-so’s dead; here’s their finger. So-and-so is dead; here’s their head in a box. I killed so-and-so; have a scalp. It’s a way to say, “Your loved one isn’t only dead, but I also chopped them to pieces.” It’s a way to show the people of the world that you mean business. It makes sense in a sick and twisted way. Yeah, still though, chopping off someone’s ear doesn’t seem very nice.

This story mentions something called an antimacassar, while having seen the word and being familiar with its usage, I wasn’t entirely sure what an antimacassar was. An Antimacassar is basically a piece of cloth you put over the top of a chair to protect it from grease, dirt, and other stuff. You might have decorated it and made it pretty, just as Susan in this story was doing.

Arthur must have admired Beecher, because he has mentioned him again in this story.

The Adventure of the Cardboard BoxThemes

You know what I’m taking away from this–don’t marry an alcoholic and don’t try to steal your sister’s husband. Addiction is a tricky thing. It never really goes away. If you were addicted to say, Diet Coke, like me, you may be able to quit for a while, but the minute you pick up another Diet Coke, you just don’t take one sip, you go all out. You’re like Diet Coke this, Diet Coke that, Diet Coke in the morning, Diet Coke in the evening–there is no in-between; you’re either in or you’re out; you’re either pregnant or you’re not.

Browner in this story had evidently had problems with alcohol at one point, but decided to quit, perhaps at the coaxing of Mary his wife, but he went back to it. He didn’t just take a sip; he went in for the whole darn enchilada. As you know, alcohol can change your moods and your reactions. Some people giggle hysterically when drunk, while others will fight you. Browner was the violent type as we see.

Yeah, his wife cheated on him. The story doesn’t say as much as Browner caught them in bed together, but what else were they doing? Mary was cheating on her husband. Any husband should be angry that his wife is cheating on him, but an alcoholic husband is probably going to go off his rocker. He killed two people and cut off their ears. I would call that going off your rocker.

Also, this woman, Sarah, why in the heck did she want her sister’s husband? I mean he married Mary, it’s done, you can’t have him, go find somebody else. It’s just like how none of us can have Benedict Cumberbatch now; we just have to find somebody else. It’s over. Sarah probably had a good run when she flirted with Browner before they were married, but he likes Mary, time to get a new boyfriend. There are more men. Browner doesn’t even sound that great. He’s a sailor and he’s an alcoholic. That’s not anything to write home about.

Dear Mom,

I met the greatest guy. He’s a sailor. He has tattoos. He cusses like a sailor, because he is one. He is a reformed alcoholic. He tells me he’ll never touch another drop. He’s a bit possessive, but I kind of like it. We’re getting married tomorrow.

Love,

Mary

Seriously? Yeah, no. They could have all done better. Sarah actually sounds pretty smart and likable, besides the trying to break up a marriage thing. She could have found herself another man. Why didn’t she take the sailor that she pushed on her sister? He sounded nice enough. Let it go. There are other fish in the sea, seriously. You cannot spend your entire life pining after one person. There are other people out there. So what if you thought Reginald Flufferbottom was the most wonderful thing in the world. He’s married, go find yourself another man. He may not be Reginald Flufferbottom, but I think you’ll be alright.

Some marriages suck, but you shouldn’t try to break them up. If for some odd reason two people want to be together, let them be together. It’s their life. It doesn’t matter if you like the guy or the girl, or you’re jealous, or what. It’s their relationship and it’s important to them; you shouldn’t do anything to undermine it. Let them have their life. Sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and let situations happen that you’re not comfortable with.

The Adventure of the Cardboard BoxOverall

I’m still thinking about Spongebob Squarepants and his cardboard box.


Fitcher’s Bird

Fitcher's BirdSummary

Fitcher’s Bird is a bloody tale, so if you’re squeemish at all, you might want to skip this one.

Once upon a time there was a wizard who liked to disguise himself as a poor beggar so he could entrap young women. He carried with him a large basket. He once went to a household that had three daughters. The man begged at the door for a little food. The oldest daughter was going to give him some bread, but she had barely touched him when she was forced into the man’s basket.

He took the young woman back to her house and told her, “My darling, you will certainly be happy with me, for you have everything your heart can wish for.” After a while the man said he had to leave. He gave the girl an egg and a key. He told her she could use the key to go into any room in the house, but one specific room. He also told her to guard the egg carefully.

The young girl went into all the rooms of the house and she was going to ignore the one room in particular, but curiosity got the best of her and she opened the door with the key. Inside she saw a great vat of blood. There were pieces of people everywhere. There were legs and arms all over the place. There was a large chopping block with a great silver axe. The girl was so startled that she dropped the egg into the bloody vat. She tried to get the blood off the egg, but as soon as she wiped it off, it reappeared.

The wizard came back and he saw that the girl had been in the room. He took her into the room and chopped he head off. Then he dismembered her and tossed her into the vat with all the other bodies.

He decided his next target would be the middle sister of this family. He played the same disguise. The second daughter was deceived in the same way. He brought her back to his house and one day went on a journey. He left her with the same stipulations, but the same thing happened all over again. The second daughter ended up in the vat just like the first.

The wizard decided to go back for the third daughter, but she was a smart cookie, besides getting caught in his basket in the first place. When the wizard left on his journey, the third daughter put the egg in a safe place then she peeked inside the room. Instead of being absolutely terrified, this girl found the dismembered pieces of her sisters and set them together. Once she had them all together like a puzzle piece, they reconnected and her sisters were brought back to life. They were all happy.

The wizard came back home. He demanded the key and the egg as soon as he got back. Once he saw that the egg was not bloody, he told the third daughter that she would be his wife. She acted like she was ok with this. Once he decided to take her as his wife, he no longer had power over her. She told him to take a basket of gold to her family.

Inside the basket of gold she hid her two sisters. She gave the basket to the wizard with instructions that she was going to watch him through the window to make sure he didn’t rest on the way to her family’s house.

The basket was very heavy. After a while the wizard stopped to rest, but one of the sisters inside the basket called out to him, “I am looking through my little window, and I  see that you ae resting. Will you go on at once?” He thought this was his wife-to-be saying all of this from his window, so he got a little freaked out and kept on with his journey. Every time he tried to rest, one of the sisters would call out to him to keep going.

He finally made it to the family’s house where the sisters were to bring help. In the meantime the third sister had been at the wizard’s house preparing things of her own. She prepared a feast and sent invitations to friends of the wizard. Then she found a skull which she dressed with flowers and ornaments. She set this in her window.

She then got into a barrel of honey and cut open a feather bed. She rolled all around in the feathers until she looked like a bird. She went out of the house.

Wedding guests saw he and this was what happened:

“O, Fitcher’s bird, how com’st thou here?”

“I come from Fitcher’s house quite near.”

“And what may the young bride be doing?”

“From cellar to garret she’s swept all clean,

And now from the window she’s peeping I ween.”

On he way she met the wizard, who did not recognize her. He asked her the same thing.

He happened to look up and see the skull and thought it was his bride. He smiled at her and then went into the house with all his dastardly friends. When all of the guests were in the house, the bride’s family came and barred the house. Then they set fire to it. The wizard and all of his friends died.

The End

Fitcher's BirdObservations

Well, this tale is just a bundle of sunshine isn’t it? This wizard is an outright murdering serial killer. He’s a predator and he’s awful. He’s not even a sexual predator he just likes to dismember people, which probably makes him one of the worst kind’s of predators there can be. He’s a classic predator though. He uses a disguise to entrap his victims. That’s how predators do it. They may not all dress as Barney the Purple Dinosaur or be looking for a lost puppy, but all predators have some sort of disguise. It just may not be an actual physical disguise. They might disguise their personality. They might disguise their voice. They might disguise their face or their clothes. These people never go after prey in their true states.

The egg, let’s talk about the egg. I have heard of an egg in reference to a baby in multiple instances. There are class assignments where you get an egg and have to take care of it for a certain period of time as if it were a baby. If your egg gets cracked you’re screwed. You get an F. Now, there are other more folkloric types of stories that do equate an egg for a baby. The egg symbolizes a baby. A baby is small and cannot take care of itself. In that sense it doesn’t matter if you say “egg” or “baby”.

Remember how in Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, that Jude’s first wife, well, his only wife uses an egg to trick him into some naughty things? Was it just an egg? No, it was a symbol. It was a symbol for what she was trying to trick him into. She was trying to get herself knocked up, if you know anything about the book.

This is the question you have to keep in your mind…was this really an egg or was it a baby? Hopefully, you don’t drop a baby in a bloody vat of dismembered body parts.

There is also this idea that an egg is pure in some sense. It’s this cocoon that shields the insides from the world around it, but it can still absorb the outside world.

Just to be really “out-there” interpretation…what if the egg was not an egg, but a baby that was still in its mother’s womb, the mothers being the captive girls? What if all this blood is not just blood, but also symbolizing that these women had miscarriages thus losing the trust and faith of the wizard who then killed them? You may think that’s really weird, but think about some of the crimes in history in which terrible things were done to women because they couldn’t carry a baby to term or they had a baby of the wrong sex. Just think about. Terrible things have happened to these women. For a long time and, honestly, still today, a woman’s fertility ruled her value in society. We’re supposed to be past all that bull-crap by the way, but we’re not. What if this man is finding wife after wife, but none of them are bearing him a child? Does that sound familiar? It kind of reminds me of a man named Henry VIII.

Fitcher's BirdThemes

You cannot hide from your misdeeds. Eventually you will be punished and sometimes, quite cruelly. A couple of posts ago, or so, we talked about this mob mentality that people can have. We talked about the people in The Robber Bridegroom who put the smack-down on the would-be groom and his den of murdering thieves. These were average people, but when you messed with one of their own, they turned on you and they weren’t nice about it. That’s what happens in this story.

We discussed the idea that people hate that you committed a crime under their nose. They hate it. They will not be kind to you if they get a chance to take you down. You have no only harmed someone they know, you have made them doubt themselves. How could this terrible thing be going on right next door and no one have any idea about it? People get mad. They get angry. You hurt little Susie and you made them lose faith in themselves. You’ve just screwed everybody over. You have doubly offended them.

Because you have doubly offended these people they aren’t going to read you your Miranda rights and use their tax dollars to give you nice stay in prison. No. They are going to flay your skin off while you’re still alive. They going to burn you with cigarettes. They’re going to Chinese water torture you and other terrible things. Remember that awful machine from The Princess Bride? They’re going to use that on you.

The way they see it, you gave up your chance for any kind of civil punishment not when you abducted the three young women, but when you abducted the three young women under their noses. Making a person doubt themselves in a huge crime, psychologically. In logical terms, it’s not as bad as abducting three young women, but you’re throwing all logic out the window if you decided to do something terrible like that in the first place.

One more thing, sometimes when you do something bad, you bring your own punishment. This man carries his punishment on his back. He carries it and it’s heavy. There are a lot of criminals who tell on themselves. They may not do it intentionally, but it’s often the case.

Overall

This story is gross. I am not a bloody-gore person at all. You guys can go watch your splatter-porn all you want to, but I’m going to stick to British television and Spongebob Squarepants. My goodness, there were some really disgusting tales floating around back in the day. This reminds me of the version of Red Riding Hood from the eighties. It’s quite bloody.

P.S. is Fitcher the wizard?